The West Coast’s wandering wolf

Remote camera photo of OR7 captured on 5/3/2014 in eastern Jackson County, Ore. Photo courtesy of USFWS.
Remote camera photo of OR7 on 5/3/2014 in eastern Jackson County, Ore. Photo courtesy of USFWS.

Gray wolves were quite the media beasts last week. Wildlife officials approved protection of the wolf as an endangered species in California — where wolves aren’t known to exist. Except for the lone gray from Oregon, who spent a bit of time in the Golden State a few years ago. And had some news of his own.

Anyone who follows wolf news in the West knows by now about OR-7, the GPS-collared young fellow from a pack in northeast Oregon who traveled across the state and was spotted in California in 2011. I can’t say I blame him — Oregon’s great, but who wouldn’t want to hang in the Golden State for awhile? It was the first time since the 1920s that a wolf was spotted in Cali.

It was only a matter of time before OR-7 tried to find a mate. Pickin’s were slim in California, but 7 appears to have found love back in Oregon. The Dept. of Fish & Wildlife there reported on May 12 that he hooked up with a female wolf in southwest Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, where he’s spent most of his time since March 2013.

And lo and behold, babies make four (and possibly more…the average litter size is 4-7): on June 2, two pups were spotted in the same area — the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Oregon DFW reported that they and U.S. Fish & Wildlife spotted the pups close to where a remote camera spotted the female.

Wolf pups spotted by remote camera in southwestern Oregon. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wolf pups spotted by remote camera in southwestern Oregon. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Oregon is no stranger to wolves. There are 64 known canis lupus there, most in the remote northeastern part of the state; OR-7 was originally from the Imnaha Pack:

Wolf_Use_Map_Statewide_140225

It’s interesting that gray wolves will be protected in California, while their status in other Western states hangs in the balance. A decision to remove wolves nationwide from the endangered species list has been delayed until the end of 2014. I wrote about this contentious issue a few months ago. See more about gray wolves here. It’s been reported that with wolves in neighboring states, it’s just a matter of time before they become established in California. That’s an exciting prospect, and one I’m sure that will get some hackles up.

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